By Chris Avery
Leon Hsu, NAIT Alumni and Canadian Taiwanese citizen, believes Taiwan’s proactive measures have kept the cases of COVID-19 in Taiwan low.
As of March 21, Taiwan reported only 153 confirmed cases, and 2 deaths.
Hsu says Taiwan stresses the importance of protective measures like face masks, travel restrictions, hand-washing, and social distancing.
“Two weeks before this outbreak [went] international, Taiwan already put measures for screening visitors with high fever at borders,” said Hsu.
He says Taiwan has normalized the use of face masks among its people.
“You know Asians, especially Taiwanese, they have a tradition to wear facial masks on the street, it’s normal. But this is a special time.”
Hsu has lived in Canada since 2007. He completed his millwright apprenticeship at NAIT, and now commutes between Fort McMurray and Edmonton for work. He still has family members in Taiwan.
“There was a period of time where the masks were in shortage, [in Taiwan]. The government tried to encourage people if you are healthy, don’t wear the facial mask, save the mask for the people that need the masks—medical care personnel and vulnerable people.”
He said the government’s heavy-handed approach to regulating the masks has been very effective.
“For the mask shortage, they connect the system with their health card, so if your health card number ends in [an] odd number, you can go to the pharmacist to get masks on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each person can only get two masks [per day]. Then if your health card number ends in [an even number] you can go Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to get masks. Kids can get their own mask as well. So, it’s tied into the healthcare system and the masks are supplied by the government to control the supply chain and keep prices low.”
His niece, Renhua Hsu, who is a current resident of Taiwan and lives in Nantou County, explains her first-hand experience with the situation.
“According to our government, Taiwan is still in the phase one of dealing with coronavirus. We don’t have a true outbreak. For the population, about 23 million Taiwan, now only has over 100 patients. So, the way we deal with the virus is to track those people who come back from other countries and ask them to do the self-isolation,” said Renhua.
She reinforces the practice of self-isolation we are seeing in Canada. She also remains confident the strict border control and overall governmental control on the island is positive and will continue.
“Self-isolation if you come back from other countries, forbid those who don’t have nationality entry, be sure to wear face masks and wash hands more often if you go to public areas,” said Renhua.
These are all ways the Taiwanese government is tackling the issue.
Renhua said citizens are becoming worried as more people are returning to the country from places with high rates of infection, like the USA.
“People are a little bit worried about the rise of patient amounts. We used to only have 2-7 added patients per day but because now lots of people are coming back from the USA and Europe, yesterday the raise [was] 23 persons. But now the situation in Taiwan [is] still in control,” said Renhua.